High performance computing: USA issue an embargo on China

tianhe-2The United States has just place 4 Chinese research centres on their blacklist. Manufacturers of components dedicated to HPC now have ban on exporting their chips. The United States want to curb Chinese researchers whose supercomputers, like ours, are used to simulate explosions of atomic bombs. China may attempt to circumvent the embargo, but there should be no doubt that the Middle Kingdom will redouble its effort to develop its own chips and access its independence in terms of computing power.

The U.S. Department of Commerce refused export licences to Intel

The information was confirmed by Intel a few days from HPCwire. This summer, the Department of commerce served industry should apply an export permit to ship its chips Xeon and Xeon Phi to Inspur, constructor of Chinese supercomputers. It is this constructor who had built the center of Guangzhou Tianhe-2. A machine operated by the National University of defense technology Chinese. The export licence having been rejected by the Ministry of trade, Intel has the Cancel shipment of its chips.


Tianhe-2, the most powerful supercomputer in the world relies
on Intel Xeon chips and accelerators Xeon Phi (Photo: Inspur).

On theory, it seems not very complicated for China not to circumvent the embargo and to buy these Xeon and Xeon Phi by friendly countries or less overtones enterprises nuclear research. A problem however, the number of chips required to constitute a class of a Tianhe calculator. Tianhe-2 has 3.12 million hearts in its cupboards. Supercomputers designers are opting for more powerful CPU, with the largest number of possible hearts to take advantage of the best ratio power/power consumption, a given key in the design of a supercomputer. Chips marketed to thousands of dollars apiece. It will be very difficult for the Chinese military to buy Intel, AMD or NVidia chips on a very broad scale without triggering alarms on the servers of the NSA.

An embargo that could well push China to revive its microprocessor research


The Loongson microprocessor, nor the ShenWei,
cannot compete with the power of the high range of Intel Xeon.

Another track pursued by China, to produce its own chips. Jiāngnan Computing Lab designs chips for intensive computing for many years. The last known chip out of his lab is ShenWei SW1600, a RISC 64-bit 16-core chip. Unveiled in 2010, it displays a 140.8 GFlops performance. It powers the Sunway BlueLight’s Center of Jinan. A machine that displays 795.9 Tflops on the scale with 137.200 hearts of calculation, which earned him the 65th place world ranking of ECUs. Since 2010, no new ShenWei model has emerged. China gave the development of a chip which told that the architecture is inspired by the Dec Alpha? The most modern Chinese microprocessor known in the West is the Godson – 3B Loonson 1500, a chip 8 hearts of architecture MIPS64 which was unveiled in 2013. Looson provides a power of 192 GFlops for its chip. A Xeon Phi, which equip the Tianhe-2, displays 1 TFlops (1000 GFlops) alone…

Sources :

“Four Chinese Supercomputing Orgs Named on US Blacklist”, HPCwire, April 8, 2015

“Uncle Sam Shocks Intel With a Ban on Xeon Supercomputers in China”, VRworld, April 7, 2015

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